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Match Report: Bradford City 1 Walsall 1

Here is our Match Report from the League Two clash between Bradford City & Walsall, which took place at Valley Parade on Saturday, 4th September 2021.
The Saddlers were looking to secure their second win in as many games as they made the trip to Valley Parade, where they would take on Derek Adams' third-placed Bantams.

After Conor Wilkinson's fifth-minute strike proved to be enough to secure all three points at the expense of opponents Stevenage last Saturday, the Reds were looking to move further from the dropzone earlier this afternoon.
 
Walsall began the game brightly, earning the first corner of the afternoon just four minutes in, which Stephen Ward turned goal-wards, winning a second flag-kick with his effort as Charles Vernam turned the ball behind. Ultimately, nothing would come of the opportunity.

The visiting side continued to look the more likely to open the scoring early on, with George Miller finding space to get a shot away in the seventh minute, but his effort from the left was blocked by the Bradford City defences.

Bradford did begin to grow into the game, with Andy Cook seeing an eighth minute effort blocked by Manny Monthe, before his side won a corner thanks to a Carl Rushworth save which denied Gareth Evans moments later. Nothing would come of the initial flag-kick, but Paudie O'Connor headed City's second corner-kick narrowly wide of the upright.

The home side continued to show signs of improvement, winning a further flag-kick in the fourteenth minute, as Liam Kinsella turned the ball out of play, and this time Elliot Watt was able to get on the end of the cross and fire home from outside the area to put his side ahead.

The Saddlers looked to respond quickly to falling a goal behind, and won a corner for their efforts in the twentieth minute, as a Kieran Phillips strike was deflected out of play, but Walsall were unable to emulate their hosts, with the flag-kick coming to nothing.

Twenty-four minutes into the contest, Bradford should have doubled their advantage, but with the Saddlers flailing at the back, Charles Vernam somehow failed to find the target with a headed effort after some good work from Callum Cooke and Alex Gilliead played him in.

The home team continued to look the more likely of the two sides to score, winning another flag-kick on the half hour mark, as a Cook header was turned behind by the Walsall shot-stopper. The ball in from the corner caused a few problems for the Saddlers defences as it was played back across the face of goal, but the visiting side were ultimately able to clear the danger.

Walsall struggled to create much, or keep hold of the ball, but thirty-four minutes in, Brendan Kiernan saw an opportunity to fire an effort goal-wards from distance. However, his shot failed to trouble City 'keeper, Richard O'Donnell, sailing high over the crossbar.

The Saddlers continued to enjoy a brighter spell, winning a corner moments after the missed effort, as a Jack Earing effort was deflected out of play. Captain, Joss Labadie got on the end of the in-swinging ball, but his headed effort was well claimed by O'Donnell.

With forty-two minutes on the clock, the scores were levelled, as former Halifax Town prospect Earing turned home a Kiernan cross.

The delight was short lived for the Saddlers faithful, as, just a minute after his side found the equaliser, Joss Labadie was expelled from the game. The skipper being shown the red card for a dangerous challenge on Evans, who required treatment before ultimately being able to see out the half.

Three additional minutes were added to end the first-half, during which time, the hosts looked to re-establish their earlier lead, winning a corner from which Cook nodded wide. Little further action of note followed, though, and the sides headed off for their half-time refreshments with the scores tied at one-goal-apiece.

HT
BCAFC
1-1
WFC
 
The teams returned unchanged following the break, and the second-half got underway. The Bantams began the half brightly, and set about looking to make their man advantage pay, with Evans firing goal-wards just three minutes after the re-start, but failing to beat the Walsall shot-stopper, who gathered with ease.

The home side continued to test the Walsall defences as the match wore on, with Cook finding the side-netting seven minutes in, before his team won a corner kick two minutes later, which O'Connor headed over.

Bradford continued to see much of the ball as the game continued, but the Walsall defences did well to limit their chances.

With sixty-four minutes on the clock, the Saddlers opted to make the first substitution of the afternoon, with George Miller making way for Tyrese Shade.

Two minutes after the change, the home team enjoyed arguably their best chance of the second-half, with Vernam crossing the ball in to an unmarked Cook inside the area, but the former Saddler was unable to control his header and sent the ball over the crossbar.

The hosts felt they should have been awarded a penalty twenty minutes from time, as Niall Canavan went down inside the box, but the referee was unmoved by their appeals and waved play on.

With seventy-one minutes on the clock, Bradford chose to make their first change of the afternoon. Gareth Evans the man to make way as Oliver Crankshaw joined the fray.

Walsall continued to defend well as the game wore on, ensuring their hosts man advantage would not also tell on the scoresheet.

Bradford did continue to seek a second goal though, and seventy-six minutes in were a little unlucky not to see Cooke convert, as the midfield saw an effort deflect wide for a corner, which came to nothing.

With seventy-seven minutes on the clock, the home side opted to make a second change to their line-up, with Charles Vernam making way for former Saddler, Caolan Lavery.

The home side continued to press as they looked for a late goal to secure all three points, but the Saddlers continued to defend well to deny Crankshaw a close range effort moments after the change. A series of Bradford corner followed, but the visiting side kept their heads to ensure none would find the target.

With eighty-one minutes on the clock, Hayden White became the first player to see the yellow card, as he received a caution after kicking the ball away.

In the eighty-fourth minute, Walsall chose to make their second change of the afternoon, with Brendan Kiernan making way for Ash Taylor.

With eighty-nine minutes on the clock, Bradford opted to make a late change to their line-up, with Niall Canavan giving his place to Theo Robinson.

The Saddlers followed suit, making a ninety-first minute substitution; Jack Earing being replaced by Sam Perry moments after the officials indicated five additional minutes would be played to end the game.

There was little further action of note, as the Saddlers somehow held on to see out the one-all draw. A superb point for the travelling side, and a decent all-round performance, with just the one large (red) blot on the landscape.

FT
BCAFC
1-1
WFC
Watt (14') 
Earing (42')
REF
Ben Toner
ATT/AT
15,822 - Valley Parade

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